Free Syrian Army fighters look at an overhead jet during
clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar
al-Assad, near Aleppo international airport. REUTERS/Malek
The death toll in Syria is likely approaching 70,000 with
civilians paying the price for the UN Security Council's lack
of action to end the nearly 2-year-old conflict, the UN human
rights chief said today.
Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights,
repeated her call for Syria to be referred by the 15-member
council to the International Criminal Court to send a message
to both parties in the conflict that there would be
consequences for their actions.
Pillay told a council debate on protection of civilians in
armed conflict that the death toll in Syria was "probably now
On January 2 Pillay said more than 60,000 people had been
killed during the revolt against Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad, which began with peaceful protests but turned
violent after Assad's forces tried to crush the
"The lack of consensus on Syria and the resulting inaction
has been disastrous and civilians on all sides have paid the
price," she said. "We will be judged against the tragedy that
has unfolded before our eyes."
World powers are divided on how to stop the escalating
violence in Syria and the Security Council is unlikely to
refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal
Court in The Hague, which is not an official UN body.
Permanent Security Council members Russia and China have
acted as Syria's protector on the council by repeatedly
blocking Western efforts to take stronger U.N. action - such
as sanctions - against the Syrian government to try to end
Both sides to the Syria conflict have been accused of
committing atrocities but the United Nations says the
government and its allies have been more culpable.
"Syria is self-destructing," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
told the Council on Foreign Relations on Monday evening.
"After nearly two years, we no longer count days in hours,
but in bodies. Another day, another 100, 200, 300 dead."
"Fighting rages. Sectarian hatred is on the rise. The
catalogue of war crimes is mounting," he said. "The Security
Council must no longer stand on the sidelines, dead-locked,
silently witnessing the slaughter."
More than 50 countries asked the UN Security Council last
month to refer the Syria crisis to the International Criminal
Court, which prosecutes genocide and war crimes cases.
Syria is not a party to the Rome Statute, which set up the
International Criminal Court, so the only way the court can
investigate the situation is if it receives a referral from
the Security Council. The council has previously referred
conflicts in Libya and Darfur, Sudan to the court.